Sometime in 2022, depending on the COVID-19 conditions in the community, more people will return to work at one of the Lab sites. While the Lab’s turkeys will look familiar, Lab processes for coming on site and getting into buildings will have changed. This is the first in a series of articles on Lab changes that have occurred over the past 20 months.
Our first conversation is with David von Damm, Division Director, Security and Emergency Services (SES). The security changes are some of the more apparent changes that people returning to the Lab sites will notice.
What’s changing with site security at the Lab?
First, let me explain that SES is here to keep us all safe. I consider it a critical component of our Lab’s safety programs, so much so that we partnered with the Safety Advisory Committee (SAC) this year and launched a new Safeguards and Security Subcommittee in the SAC, and I’m looking forward to the increased engagement and feedback surrounding our security programs from the committee.
And, as a federal facility, and in compliance with our contractual obligations, we must apply Department of Energy security standards at our sites.
So what’s changing? Well, we recently partnered with a new company to provide essential security officer staff. If you’ve been on site lately, you’ve seen their new uniforms and some new faces when coming through the gate.
Probably the most significant change, and one people who access the main site already know about, is the requirement to use your badge to enter the site and into buildings. This simple change has given us the ability to quickly and accurately assess who is on site, which is information that is critical during emergency situations. So you know, we just launched a security awareness survey to a random sample of Lab personnel to gauge what people think about our new security procedures, how best to communicate security matters, and a few other topics. I look forward to getting that feedback from our Lab community.
What will be new for 2022?
I’m excited about our new Visitor Management System, which will launch in the next few months. The new system modernizes our process and better meets Department of Energy (DOE) requirements for welcoming international collaborators. A key change is that the system processes information in real time. Once the host and their visitor complete the pre-visit questions, the system instantly adds the visitor to the site access list.
We are also working on adding Lab badge readers to the shuttles to help streamline access to the main site for shuttle commuters. And we are developing a visitor badge that can be handed out at the gate and would allow approved visitors to enter buildings without needing their host to open exterior doors. Those visitor badges will be useful for research divisions that prefer visitors to wear a badge due to the sensitive nature of their work.
Another significant change this year is creating what DOE calls Property Protection Areas, or PPAs, which you will see in specific spaces around the Lab’s main site. PPAs contain special materials that require additional protection with badge readers, video coverage, and special access privileges. We currently have four PPAs, but that will be expanding to 20 spread between 10 buildings on the main site. So, if you see our team of hard-working technicians installing these around the site, please say hello and thank them for helping make our Lab more safe and secure.
How can employees learn more?
There are several things you can do. First, the DOE has asked labs to increase security awareness so we’ve updated our security training and made it a stand-alone training module, SES 0200, that covers new site access procedures and is assigned to all new employees. Existing employees are encouraged to take the course and provide us feedback.
Another thing you can do is bookmark our SES webpage. It’s been updated quite extensively in the past year, and it is frequently modified with new information. For example, we’re in the process of updating the Security and Site Access section of the Lab Requirements and Policy Manual. The update includes helpful and straightforward information on a comprehensive suite of security policy topics.
Lastly, please sign up for LabAlert. LabAlert is the Lab’s official emergency notification system. LabAlert is used to notify you of security and other emergency conditions on site, which may require you to avoid certain areas or even evacuate the Lab site.
Any final thoughts?
Security is a team effort, and you are an essential part of keeping the Lab safe and secure. Remember to call or email the Site Operations Center (SOC) if you see suspicious activity at any of our facilities and 911 if there is an immediate emergency. The SOC number is 510-486-6999.
Lastly, we’d love to hear from you. You can send any feedback to the security staff analyst, Jeff Shen.